Future of Indian swimming looks bright, says former coach Pradeep Kumar

The former national coach S. Pradeep Kumar called the overall show of Indian swimmers in Jakarta as a wonderful achievement.

Srihari Nataraj during the finals of men's 200 metre backstroke event at the 18th Asian Games.   -  PTI

India failed to win a single medal in swimming at the recently concluded Asian Games in Jakarta, but it was arguably one of the better performance collectively by Indian swimmers at the Asiad.

Dhronacharya awardee and former national coach S. Pradeep Kumar has no doubts about it and called the overall show in Jakarta as a wonderful achievement. Indian swimmers entered final in 10 events and a few narrowly missed the podium.

"It is true we failed to win a single medal in the games. But overall it was the best performance by Indian swimmers in the Asian Games. Virdhawal Khade missed a medal by a whisker. Our swimmers entered finals in 10 events which is unprecedented in the history of the Games.

"Khade and Srihari set national records but it was not individual performances which thrilled me but the performance of relay teams which made it into the finals. It is a big achievement. I think we have improved a lot in the relays. The future looks bright for Indian swimming," he said.

Pradeep, who moved to Dubai after spending 29 years of coaching in Bengaluru said he was happy with the performance of his trainee Sajan Prakash who finished fifth in his pet event - the 200m butterfly event in Jakarta.

"Entering the final and finishing fifth is a tremendous achievement for Sajan but he was capable of doing 1.56s in his favourite event. I was bit disappointed when he could do only 1:57 in Jakarta but I expect him to achieve that timing soon," said Pradeep.

One of the positives from the Jakarta Asian Games was the eye catching performance of Srihari Nataraj. The 17-year-old gave enough indications that he is going to be the next big thing in Indian swimming.

Pradeep is naturally impressed but had a word for caution for the youngster and advised him to remain focused and dedicated in his goal. "He is a very talented lad and has a great future. But sometimes all these attention can be counter productive. There are chances for him to lose focus. I think he can go to the next level if he remains grounded and keeps himself insulated from other distractions," he said.